Friday, June 08, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury, Plus Two Fantasy Novels

Author Ray Bradbury died on June 5 at age 91. Ray Bradbury was one of the best writers ever to grace our planet. He was a master of the short story, which is, in my opinion, one of the hardest forms of fiction to write, and he wrote classic works of science fiction that were read by people who normally would never touch a genre novel.  The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, were all books that I read and loved throughout my teen years. His story "Uncle Einar" made me weep, as did many of his other wonder-filled short stories, from "The Veldt" to his short story about the vampire family that was shamelessly ripped off by Stephanie Meyer for her "Twilight" series. When Jim and I visited Los Angeles in 1994, we made a pilgrimage to the Bradbury Building, where they filmed the Outer Limits episode, "Demon With a Glass Hand" and part of "Blade Runner." Those who are bibliophiles and other writers/authors mourn with me, as we shall not see his like ever again. Rest in Peace, Mr Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury,
the internationally--perhaps even universally--acknowledged master of
science fiction "whose imaginative and lyrical evocations of the future
reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar
America," as the New York Times put it, died on Tuesday after a long
illness. He was 91.

His best-known works included Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles,
The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He received
the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution
to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts and the 2007
Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

"By many estimations Mr. Bradbury was the writer most responsible for
bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream," the Times
observed, noting that more than eight million copies of his books have
been sold in 36 languages.

In July, Morrow is publishing Shadow Show: All New Stories in
Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle
consisting of short stories by 26 authors, including  Ramsey Campbell,
Harlan Ellison, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger, Dave
Eggers and Jacquelyn Mitchard.

"[Wednesday] afternoon I was in a studio recording an audiobook version
of a short story I had written for Ray Bradbury's 90th birthday. It's a
monologue called 'The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury,' and was a way of
talking about the impact that Ray Bradbury had on me as a boy, and as an
adult, and, as far as I could, about what he had done to the world. And
I wrote it last year as a love letter and as a thank you and as a
birthday present for an author who made me dream, taught me about words
and what they could accomplish and who never let me down as a reader or
as a person as I grew up."

--Neil Gaiman
in a Guardian essay remembering his friend, who died earlier this week.

From Shelf Awareness comes a great list of audiobooks:

The Audio Publishers Association announced this year's Audie Award
winners Tuesday night. Tina Fey's memoir Bossypants was a double winner,
earning Audio Book of the Year honors as well as a win in the
biography/memoir category. Check out the complete list of Audie winners
and finalists here

I just finished reading "Among Others", which I adored, as I was a teen in the 70s, and I felt much the same way about science fiction and fantasy as does the protagonist, Mori, who lost her twin sister and still manages to see the good in life and in the fair folk. She loves reading as much as I did, and I could identify with her scouring the library and the bookshops for new things to read. I could also identify with her being bullied and picked on, as I was treated much the same way in high school. Though her mother was horrifically insane and evil, and my parents were never abusive to that extent, I did have to deal with my parents divorce and their horrible way of putting me in the middle and blaming me for things that were not my fault. So I could identify with Mori on that front, too.

Among Others by Jo Walton
Tor, 2011. 9780765321534.
Reviewed by Bill Barnes of Unshelved

Morwenna and her twin sister practiced magic with the fairies in the overgrown industrial ruins of Wales. Then something terrible happened. Now she's alone, with a crippled leg, being driven to boarding school in England by a father she only just met.

Why I picked it up: Mori's world revolves around the science fiction and fantasy novels she reads. It takes place in 1980, just two years before I moved to England, and the books she reads are the ones I read by Heinlein, Niven, Le Guin, and so on. I couldn't resist.

Why I finished it: Mori is the nerdgirl I always hoped to meet. I was a little jealous when she meets a boy at a sci-fi book club. But Mori really can do magic, and she bides her time, dealing with the petty politics of boarding school while preparing for the inevitable rematch with the being that killed her sister.

I'd give it to: Nigel, the first friend I made when I moved to England. We were both strangers in a strange land, and he'll be freaked out by the nostalgic smells and sounds Walton evokes, especially the sweet buns, for a long time the only food in England worth eating, which Mori and the other girls consume in quantity.

I also read Ann Aguirre's latest Corine Solomon novel, "Devil's Punch" and I was surprised at how deftly Aguirre managed to tie up loose ends while weaving in an original and often scary tale of Corine's battle to save her young friend Shannon literally from Hell, where the politics aren't quite what you'd think they are. Her relationship with Chance was also renewed and solidified, and even though she's taken over by the Queen of the Demons, Chance still loves her unconditionally. Though it had a sad ending, I am really looking forward to the next installment in this series.

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